PIC earns national recognition for increasing study abroad diversity

woman in Chile mountains
Angelica Ellis is pictured on a 2019 study abroad trip to Chile. She was among 11 TRIO students who participated. The PIC earned national recognition for increasing diversity among study abroad programs.
Image Credit: courtesy photo
group of people in Chile
TRIO students plus faculty and staff members in Chile.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

The Padnos International Center was recognized nationally for its efforts to increase the diversity of students who participate in study abroad programs.

Diversity Abroad announced PIC received the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education award. 

The award would have been presented in mid-March at the organization's annual conference; the conference was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Diversity Abroad is a California-based consortium of educational institutions, government and nonprofit organizations dedicated to fostering inclusive excellence in global education.

Michael Vrooman, PIC interim chief international officer, said collaborations with campus partners and recruitment efforts have been essential to spreading awareness of study abroad programs to students of color, student athletes and other students from underrepresented groups.

"We want all students to believe that study abroad is possible for them," Vrooman said. "Our marketing and recruitment efforts reflect the widest possible range of student experiences and our staff members involve students in the process of developing our outreach strategy."

Last year, a group of 11 TRIO students traveled to Chile for a two-week program at the Universidad del Bío-Bío. A $25,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation lowered the program's cost for participants.

Angelica Ellis, who is majoring in integrative studies, was among those 11 students. A native of Detroit, Ellis said she was ready to "step out of her comfort zone" after a friend traveled to Namibia, Africa.

"She talked about her trip constantly. When you hear from someone you know well how life-changing it was for her, it helped my decision to study abroad," Ellis said.

Ellis has since served on student panels discussing her trip and promoting study abroad to others.

Also in 2019, PIC partnered with the Athletic Department to promote and arrange a program in Spain for student athletes. Because of demands from travel, competition and practice, it is difficult for student athletes to find time for a study abroad program, Vrooman said.